Climate protection in fenlands

Naturally Carbonreservoires

© Borut Stumberger
© Borut Stumberger

Fenlands are in no way a side show in the fight against climate change. The very opposite is the case: The significance and importance of fenland for climate protection has so far been distinctly underestimated worldwide and this is true in Germany too. Fenlands only cover three percent of the surface of the earth but they absorb twice as much carbon dioxide as all the forests taken together. The draining of fens and mining of peat in Germany together release 42 million tonnes of carbon dioxide yearly and increase the greenhouse effect in doing so. This quantity corresponds to 4.5 percent of Germany's total greenhouse emissions. Only intact peatlands are capable of sinking carbon. But barely one percent of Germany's fenlands can be called “natural”.

 

© Bundesamt für Naturschutz - BfN
Training centre on Vilm © Bundesamt für Naturschutz - BfN

Meeting round one table – for a better future

From 30 March to 1 April 2009 EuroNatur brought together representatives of the associations for garden and landscape gardening for a round table meeting to discuss alternatives to the use of peat in Germany. The central theme was possible production and use of substitutes for peat.  Already today compost, wood fibres and bark could be a full-value substitute for peat in the hobby/ outdoor area. Sadly this insight is not sufficiently well known. There is a promising initiative in the “sphagnum farming” approach developed at the University of Greifswald. Here peat moss is sustainably produced on damaged peat areas and can then be used as a substitute soil in gardening.

To prevent the destruction of the last of the bogs appropriate measures must urgently be taken at EU level. Particularly in agricultural policy there has to be a real change in thinking: there must be no further damage and destruction of low-lying peat fens by intensive agricultural and forestry use.


Host and joint organiser of the event was the Federal Agency for Nature Conservation (BfN).

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